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Xbox Has Already Greenlit Ninja Theory's Hellblade 2 Follow-up

Some good from the Xbox camp, just weeks after studio closures.

A fierce battle scene with a woman in combat attire punching an opponent in a smoky, dark setting.
Ninja Theory

Developer Ninja Theory may be releasing Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, but a new report suggests Xbox has already approved the U.K. studio’s next game.

Windows Central is reporting that Xbox has given Ninja Theory the go-ahead to begin work on a new title, and has no plans to close down the studio. It’s a reassuring development for Ninja Theory, the storied maker of several cult-classic games, even if it’s just off the heels of Microsoft closing some of its newly acquired studios. Xbox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Xbox acquired Ninja Theory back in 2018. Since the purchase, the team has seemingly been focused on the release of Hellblade 2, a graphical achievement that aligns with the studio's long history of using cutting-edge tech to tell cinematic and evocative stories in the medium. Whatever this unannounced title is, Windows Central reports that it is separate from Project Mara, an “experimental” story-based game Ninja Theory has been developing since at least 2020.

If the report is true, it is an excellent decision by Xbox. For 15-plus years, titles like Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice have all been dazzling examples of how performance capture technology can enhance video games. Working with the likes of Andy Serkis (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Lord Of The Rings) has gone a long way in creating exemplary narratives in the medium.

While I didn’t love Hellblade 2, due to its simple, repetitive combat and unengaging puzzle design, there’s no changing the fact that Ninja Theory is an industry leader. Not giving them the room to iterate on ideas, and experiment with new ones would be a grave mistake. I’d even like to see a third entry in the Hellblade series, especially if it means Ninja Theory addressing some of the shortcomings that hold back their recent release from greatness.

But as exciting as it is to know that Ninja Theory has more on the way for fans, we should remain cautiously optimistic.

I didn’t love Hellblade 2, but I certainly want to see what else the studio is cooking up.

Ninja Theory

Like many other gaming publishers, Microsoft has shuttered studios amid the industry’s economic headwinds of the last year. Just months after spending billions on Call Of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard, the company announced four of the major development studios they purchased in 2021 including Hi-Fi Rush’s Tango Gameworks and Arkane Austin, would be closing.

While all four closures were a shock, Arkane Austin in particular came as a surprise as Xbox leadership specifically stated otherwise less than a year ago. In a June 2023 Axios interview, Xbox’s head of game studios Matt Booty said the Dishonored developers would remain open.

“They are hard at work on updates and continued content for Redfall,” Booty said at the time.

At the moment, the games industry seems to be more unstable than it has ever been. There have been more than 10,000 layoffs across the industry this year alone, and likely more to follow in the months ahead. Even as Xbox struggles to find footing as a major player in the console market, the company could find a way to keep its most talented studios alive.

Like so many of the prolific game studios the industry has lost in the last 12 months, a boundary-pushing developer like Ninja Theory deserves to make games for as long as it likes with full-throated support from a publisher like Xbox. Xbox seems to agree with this sentiment, and that’s good for gamers. It remains to be seen if it can stick to its guns even when the going gets tough.

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